Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel
by Jamie Ford

(Kindle Edition)

Henry Lee is a 12-year-old Chinese boy who falls in love with Keiko Okabe, a 12-year-old Japanese girl, while they are scholarship students at a prestigious private school in World War II Seattle. Henry hides the relationship from his parents, who would disown him if they knew he had a Japanese friend. His father insists that Henry wear an "I am Chinese" button everywhere he goes because Japanese residents of Seattle have begun to be shipped off by the thousands to relocation centers. This is an old-fashioned historical novel that alternates between the early 1940s and 1984, after Henry's wife Ethel has died of cancer. A particularly appealing aspect of the story is young Henry's fascination with jazz and his friendship with Sheldon, an older black saxophonist just making a name for himself in the many jazz venues near Henry's home. Other aspects of the story are more typical of the genre: the bullies that plague Henry, his lack of connection with his father, and later with his own son. Readers will care about Henry as he is forced to make decisions and accept circumstances that separate him from both his family and the love of his life.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a wonderful story that I enjoyed immensely. This incredibly sweet and touching novel brings an intimate look into the life of Henry Lee, a Chinese-American boy and an Japanese-American girl, Keiko, who befriend each other and then experience the confusing feelings and innocence of first love.

The historical and cultural aspects are very moving, although fiction, I did learned a great deal about the time before, during, and after WWII. Reading about the evacuations and the camps that the Japanese families were sent to made me sad. I guess not living during that time, I wouldn't fully understand the emotions that everyone was feeling then but I can't understand how something like that could happen. The word unfair kept going through my mind while I read these portions of the book.

This was a fabulous book that I would recommend to all my friends, and if I am ever in Seattle I would love to visit the Panama Hotel.

1 comment:

  1. Hotel on the corner of Bitter and Sweet sounds like it might be something I might like. I will definitely add it to the ever growing list. :0)